We want to address current symptoms BUT we also want to remember to explore and address underlying causes.
The Toyota/Lean community describes these activities as “containment” vs “countermeasures”.
I see it as acknowledging the importance of timing when responding to problems.
I’ve noticed that consulting companies, at least the best ones, seem to be typically faster than even leading tech companies in building high-performing teams.
Why is this?
When revenue is based on billable hours AND the typical client doesn’t like paying for setup time, you learn how to get fast at building teams.
The 3 things that matter when building high-performing teams fast:
By “high growth”, I mean in terms of employee count and roughly doubling or more every year. Even at slower growth rates, some of the phenomena I’ll describe may be relevant.
There are several options to accommodate new people:
The simplest meetings have people just talking to each other. The just talking pattern is vulnerable to the following problems:
Autonomy, in a workplace context, is not about “I can do whatever I feel like” but rather “I feel free to act and fully engage to achieve a greater purpose.”
The Art of Action calls this “aligned autonomy”.
Aligned autonomy is neither easy to obtain nor easy to sustain. I’ve generally seen two reasons for this:
“An Air Sandwich is a strategy that has clear vision and future direction on the top layer, day-to-day action on the bottom, and virtually nothing in the middle…”
Nilofer Merchant, “Collaborative Strategy: A Q&A with…
PDCA is a simple, not entirely accurate, but useful model…
Chet Hendrickson pointed to a talk he and Ron Jeffries gave at deliver:Agile about turning the dials to 12 (Complete Team, Bracketed Intervals, Valuable Working Software Product, Example-Based Transparency).
Victor Cessan suggested decreased feedback loop lengths and a WIP limit of 1.
Dan Abel suggested a number of ideas including observability, continuous delivery, scaling without losing autonomy, budgeting for learning, testing loops for user experiments, and “eXtreme User Design” [I knew this previously as “Continuous Design” at ThoughtWorks].
“No unwritten rules” is Gitlab’s simpler expression of what the Kanban community would call “make process policies explicit”. Being explicit about “how things are done here” is worthwhile whether co-located or not. It levels the playing field for people who don’t necessarily have exposure to hidden interactions. Remote makes this more critical because it can be more difficult to see how people are behaving.
Good communication habits, that is, being clear, being concise, having a logical message structure, etc. are valuable whether remote or not, but remote makes them more critical by removing the ability to compensate by being co-located.
Team Topologies describes 3 team interaction modes:
Here are a few more (via Cara Lemon, another Agile Coach at Spotify):
Senior Agile Coach at Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl